Scripture Verse

There were…shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. Luke 2:8–9


Richard S. Willis

Words: Ed­mund H. Sears, in the Chris­tian Re­gis­ter (Bos­ton, Mas­sa­chu­setts: De­cem­ber 29, 1849), Vol­ume 28, num­ber 52, page 206.

Music: Ca­rol Ri­chard S. Will­is, Church Cho­rals and Choir Stu­dies 1850 (🔊 pdf nwc).

Alternate Tunes:

Edmund H. Sears

Origin of the Hymn

Sears is said to have wri­tten these words at the re­quest of his friend, Will­iam Par­sons Lunt, a min­is­ter in Quin­cy, Mas­sa­chu­setts. The hymn was first sung at the 1849 Sun­day School Christ­mas cel­e­bra­tion.


It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold;
Peace on the earth, good will to men,
From Heaven’s all gracious king.

The world in solemn stillness lay,
To hear the angels sing.

Still through the cloven skies they come
With peaceful wings unfurled,
And still their heavenly music floats
O’er all the weary world;
Above its sad and lowly plains,
They bend on hovering wing,
And ever over its Babel sounds
The blessèd angels sing.

Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world has suffered long;
Beneath the angel strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love-song which they bring;
O hush the noise, ye men of strife
And hear the angels sing.

And ye, beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road,
And hear the angels sing!

For lo! the days are hastening on,
By prophet-bards foretold,
When with the ever circling years
Comes round the age of gold;
When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendors fling,
And the whole world send back the song
Which now the angels sing.